In today’s world, more people are realizing the importance of taking care of their mental health. Finding the right therapist has become a big deal for many. But with so many types of therapy, specialties, and therapists out there, it can be pretty overwhelming. This guide is here to help by giving you simple advice on finding a therapist who not only has the right qualifications but also fits your needs and preferences. We want to make the process of finding a good therapist less confusing, so you can get the most helpful information and have a positive experience on your journey to personal growth and healing.


First and foremost, consider your specific needs and preferences. Different therapists specialize in various areas, so identifying what you’re looking for in therapy will help narrow down your options. Whether it’s addressing specific mental health issues, coping with life changes, or seeking personal growth, understanding your goals is a crucial first step.

Secondly, explore therapy modalities to find the approach that aligns with your comfort and preferences. Therapists use various techniques, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis, or mindfulness-based approaches. Learning about these methods can help you choose a therapist whose style matches your preferences and resonates with you.

Thirdly, check the qualifications and credentials of potential therapists. Look for licensed professionals with appropriate education and experience in the specific areas you need assistance with. This ensures that you are working with someone who has the necessary skills and knowledge to support you effectively.

Moreover, consider the practical aspects, such as location, scheduling, and financial considerations. A therapist’s office that is conveniently located and fits into your schedule can contribute to a smoother and more consistent therapeutic experience. Additionally, discussing fees and payment options in advance can help you avoid unexpected financial stress.

Lastly, trust your instincts. Building a strong therapeutic relationship relies on trust and comfort. If you have an initial consultation or meeting with a potential therapist, pay attention to how you feel during and after. Your intuition can be a valuable guide in determining if a particular therapist is the right fit for you.



Psychologists, equipped with advanced degrees in psychology, specialize in evaluating and treating various emotional and behavioral challenges. Through therapeutic interventions like talk therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychologists help individuals navigate and overcome mental health issues.


Psychiatrists, as medical doctors specializing in psychiatry, focus on the biological aspects of mental health. They can prescribe medications to manage conditions and often collaborate with therapists to develop comprehensive treatment plans that address both biological and psychological aspects.


Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) hold advanced degrees in counseling and offer support to individuals, couples, and families. Using a diverse range of therapeutic techniques, LPCs address issues such as anxiety, depression, and relationship challenges, providing guidance for improved mental well-being.


Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs), grounded in social work, play a vital role in mental health care. They operate in various settings, offering assessments and treatment for a broad spectrum of mental health issues. LCSWs contribute valuable support to individuals and families facing diverse challenges.


Psychiatric nurses, specializing in mental health nursing, contribute to comprehensive care in hospitals, clinics, and community health centers. Collaborating with psychiatrists and other professionals, they provide holistic support for individuals dealing with mental health concerns, combining medical and therapeutic approaches.



Having a sense of the specific areas you wish to address can provide valuable insight for your therapist. Ashley Peña, LCSW, the executive director at Mission Connection, emphasizes that this awareness helps initiate and guide the therapeutic process.

If you believe medication might be beneficial for your symptoms, consider seeking out a psychiatrist or a practitioner with prescribing capabilities. Additionally, think about the type of therapy that would best meet your needs.

For example, if you’ve heard positive feedback about cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy for conditions similar to yours, seek a therapist with certifications or specialized training in those approaches.

It’s natural for your goals to evolve during therapy, and it’s perfectly acceptable to discuss changing the direction of your treatment plan as your needs develop. Open communication with your therapist ensures that your journey remains aligned with your evolving objectives.


Before embarking on the search for a therapist, it’s crucial to take a moment to consult your insurance coverage and evaluate your financial situation. Understanding the extent of your insurance benefits for mental health services can significantly impact your choices and alleviate potential financial burdens. Start by contacting your insurance provider to inquire about mental health coverage, including details on copayments, deductibles, and any restrictions on the network of therapists you can access. This information will help you make informed decisions about the financial aspects of therapy. 

Additionally, if you plan to pay for therapy out-of-pocket, consider establishing a budget to ensure that the cost of sessions aligns with your overall financial plan. Taking these steps beforehand allows you to approach the process of finding a therapist with a clear understanding of the financial considerations, helping you make choices that are both beneficial and sustainable for your unique situation.


Receiving a recommendation from a friend, colleague, or a trusted doctor is a valuable avenue for finding a potential therapist who aligns with your needs. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that your therapeutic goals and requirements may differ from those of the person providing the referral. What works well for them might not be as beneficial for you. While a referral is a helpful starting point, it’s essential to consider your unique needs.

In situations where personal referrals are unavailable or not applicable, telehealth services offer an excellent alternative. This option becomes particularly valuable when you don’t have connections to individuals in therapy or when personal referrals are not feasible. Telehealth broadens your access to potential therapists, providing you with more options to find a suitable match for your specific needs and preferences.


For individuals affiliated with particular communities, various resources may be accessible to support mental health needs. Examples include university students having access to counseling services on campus, employees benefiting from workplace wellness or employee assistance programs, and individuals engaging in group or individual therapy through local advocacy organizations. 

Additionally, faith-based treatment may be available through religious centers such as churches, synagogues, or mosques. Depending on your location, local support groups or organizations might convene at community meeting spots, like a community center, offering additional avenues for mental health support.


Consider utilizing a reliable online database as a valuable resource. These databases can provide a comprehensive list of licensed and qualified therapists in your area, allowing you to explore profiles, specialties, and credentials from the comfort of your own space. Websites or platforms dedicated to mental health professional directories often include reviews and ratings from previous clients, offering additional insights into the therapist’s approach and effectiveness. 

Utilizing a reliable online database streamlines the process, making it easier to identify potential therapists who align with your needs and preferences. This approach ensures that you make informed decisions in selecting a therapist, contributing to a more positive and tailored therapeutic experience.


Commencing therapy with an open mind and vulnerability is instrumental in identifying areas you may want to address. Sometimes, the issues we initially think are the primary focus are merely the surface, and the true work unfolds by delving deeper. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to inquire about key aspects when assessing if a therapist is the right fit for you.

Whether your interaction with the therapist is online, over the phone, or in person, it’s beneficial to have some notes prepared to ensure you cover all your queries. The American Psychological Association proposes several questions for your first session:

  • Are you a licensed psychologist in this state?
  • How many years have you been in practice?
  • What is your experience with individuals dealing with [the specific issue]?
  • What is your specialty or area of expertise?
  • What treatments have you found effective for resolving [the specific issue]?
  • What insurance do you accept?
  • Is payment made directly to you, with reimbursement sought from my insurance, or do you bill the insurance company?
  • Are you part of my insurance network?
  • Do you accept Medicare or Medicaid?

It’s important to note that if you have experienced abuse, trauma, or racism, asking questions that gauge a potential therapist’s cultural competence and sensitivity to your experiences is crucial.


Regardless of the number of professional accreditations your therapist holds, prioritizing your own feelings of trust and comfort is essential. While therapy may occasionally be uncomfortable, especially when discussing personal and challenging topics, if you find yourself feeling uneasy with your therapist for any reason, it’s entirely acceptable to seek someone else.

Trust your instincts and prioritize your well-being, as a positive therapeutic relationship is built on mutual respect and understanding. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s perfectly acceptable to explore other options to find a therapist with whom you feel more at ease.


In your first therapy session, it’s natural to feel a mix of anticipation and curiosity about what lies ahead. The initial meeting typically involves getting to know your therapist and establishing a foundation for your therapeutic journey. Your therapist may begin by asking about your reasons for seeking therapy, your personal history, and your goals for the sessions. This is also an opportunity for you to express any concerns or questions you may have. The therapist will likely discuss the therapeutic process, confidentiality, and what you can expect in future sessions. 

Remember that the first session is a collaborative and exploratory experience, allowing both you and your therapist to assess if there is a good fit and to establish a comfortable and trusting working relationship. It’s perfectly okay to take your time adjusting to the process and expressing your needs and expectations for the therapeutic journey ahead.


If you meet a therapist for the first time and feel like it’s not the right fit, that’s totally okay. It’s common, and many people go through it. Finding the right therapist might take some time, and that’s normal.

Remember the things we talked about earlier that might be signs of a problem. If you feel nervous because it’s your first time in therapy, that’s okay. But if you don’t feel comfortable talking to your therapist or feel like they’re not really listening, it’s okay to consider finding someone else.

After your first session, your therapist might suggest scheduling another one. If you’re sure you don’t want to meet with them again, you can let them know politely. You can say you appreciate their time but don’t think it’s the right match for you right now.

If you’ve been seeing your therapist for a while and don’t want to continue or notice some problems, you can talk to them about it if you feel okay doing so. Your therapist might help you figure out why it’s not working and suggest other therapists who might be a better fit. Trust the process and give it some time; connecting with your therapist takes time.

If you’re not comfortable talking face-to-face, you can send a text, call, or email to let them know you won’t be coming anymore. It’s important to inform them instead of just not showing up. Therapists often have rules about cancellations, so try to let them know at least 24 hours before your next appointment to avoid any fees.


1. What is the difference between a therapist and a psychologist?

Licensed therapists need at least a master’s degree in a psychotherapy-related field, while psychologists require a doctorate like a PhD or PsyD.

2. Do I need therapy or am I overreacting?

Whether or not you need therapy is a personal decision, and seeking help doesn’t mean you’re overreacting; it’s a valid step toward addressing and managing your well-being.

3. Should I see a psychologist or psychotherapist?

Psychologists often have advanced degrees and a broader range of psychological assessments, while psychotherapists focus on talk therapy and emotional well-being.

4. Why do I cry when I think about therapy?

People may cry in therapy for various reasons, such as releasing pent-up emotions, fostering the therapeutic relationship, expressing vulnerability, and allowing time for self-reflection.


In conclusion, the journey to finding a good therapist involves careful consideration of individual needs, preferences, and the unique aspects of one’s mental health journey. By exploring therapy modalities, checking qualifications, assessing personal comfort, and asking relevant questions, individuals can pave the way for a positive and beneficial therapeutic experience. Remember that the right therapist can play a crucial role in fostering personal growth, emotional well-being, and the path towards healing.